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Early Islamic World

Abbasid Caliphate

History for Kids >> Early Islamic World
Siege on Baghdad by the Mongols led by Hulagu Khan
Siege of Baghdad by Unknown, 1303.

The Abbasid Caliphate was a major dynasty that ruled over the Islamic Empire during its peak. Like the Umayyad Caliphate before it, the leader of the Abbasids was called the caliph. During the time of the Abbasids, the caliph was usually the son (or other closest male relative) of the previous Caliph.

When did it rule?

The Abbasid Caliphate had two major periods. The first period lasted from 750-1258 CE. During this period, the Abbasids were strong leaders who controlled a vast territory and created a culture that is often referred as the Golden Age of Islam. In 1258 CE, however, the capital city of Baghdad was sacked by the Mongols causing the Abbasids to flee to Egypt.

The second period lasted from 1261-1517 CE. During this time the Abbasid Caliphate was located in Cairo, Egypt. While the Abbasids were still considered the religious leaders of the Islamic world, a different group called the Mamluks held the true political and military power.

What lands did it rule?

The Abbasid Caliphate ruled over a large empire that included the Middle East, western Asia, and northeast Africa (including Egypt).

Map showing the extent of the Abbasid Empire
Map of the Abbasid Caliphate in 755 CE
Golden Age of Islam

The early part of the Abbasid rule was a time of peace and prosperity. Great advances were made in many areas of science, mathematics, and medicine. Schools of higher education and libraries were built throughout the empire. The culture flourished as Arabic art and architecture reached new heights. This period lasted from around 790 CE to 1258 CE. It is often referred to as the Golden Age of Islam.

Fall of the Abbasids

The early 1200s saw the rise of the Mongol Empire in eastern Asia. The Mongols conquered China and then began their march west to the Middle East. In 1258, the Mongols arrived at Baghdad, the capital city of the Abbasid Caliphate. The Caliph at the time believed that Baghdad could not be conquered and refused to meet the Mongols' demands. The leader of the Mongols, Hulagu Khan, then set siege to the city. In less than two weeks Baghdad had surrendered and the Caliph was put to death.

Map showing the original Round City of Baghdad
The Abbasids Built the
Round City of Baghdad
Rule from Egypt

In 1261, the Abbasids reclaimed the Caliphate from Cairo, Egypt. The real power in Egypt was a group of former slave warriors called the Mamluks. The Mamluks ran the government and the armies, while the Abbasids had authority over the Islam religion. Together they ruled the Caliphate from Cairo until 1517 when they were conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

Interesting Facts about the Abbasid Caliphate Activities More on the Early Islamic World:

Timeline and Events
Timeline of the Islamic Empire
First Four Caliphs
Umayyad Caliphate
Abbasid Caliphate
Ottoman Empire

Scholars and Scientists
Ibn Battuta
Suleiman the Magnificent
Daily Life
Trade and Commerce
Science and Technology
Calendar and Festivals

Islamic Spain
Islam in North Africa
Important Cities
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History for Kids >> Early Islamic World

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